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NCFS-Home >> Water Quality >> What is NPS?

What is Non-Point Source Pollution?

The United States Environmental Protection Agency defines NPS pollution as pollution that comes from many separate sources. It is caused by rainfall or snowmelt moving over and through the ground. As the runoff moves, it picks up and carries away natural and human-made pollutants, finally depositing them into lakes, rivers, wetlands, coastal waters, and even our underground sources of drinking water. These pollutants include:

  • Excess fertilizers, herbicides, and insecticides from agricultural lands and residential areas;
  • Oil, grease, and toxic chemicals from urban runoff and energy production;
  • Sediment from improperly managed construction sites, crop and forest lands, and eroding streambanks;
  • Salt from irrigation practices and acid drainage from abandoned mines;
  • Bacteria and nutrients from livestock, pet wastes, and faulty septic systems;
  • Atmospheric deposition and hydromodification are also sources of nonpoint source pollution.

What is forestry doing to prevent NPS Pollution?

  • Developing, implementing, and monitoring the effectiveness of Forestry Best Management Practices (BMPs). Specific to North Carolina, monitoring compliance of the Forest Practices Guidelines (FPGs) and applicable Riparian Buffer Rules.
  • North Carolina Forest Service (NCFS) created Water Quality Forester Positions in seven (7) of NCFS's 13 Districts to bolster field monitoring, education, and promotion of BMPs, FPGs, and Riparian Buffer Rules.
  • In 2002, NCFS established the Forestry NPS Unit to monitor implementation and effectiveness, research, and promote BMPs.

What can you do to prevent NPS pollution?

  • Keep litter, pet wastes, leaves, and debris out of street gutters and storm drains--these outlets drain directly to lake, streams, rivers, and wetlands.
  • Apply lawn and garden chemicals sparingly and according to directions.
  • Dispose of used oil, antifreeze, paints, and other household chemicals properly, not in storm sewers or drains. If your community does not already have a program for collecting household hazardous wastes, ask your local government to establish one.
  • Clean up spilled brake fluid, oil, grease, and antifreeze. Do not hose them into the street where they can eventually reach local streams and lakes.
  • Control soil erosion on your property by planting ground cover and stabilizing erosion-prone areas.
  • Encourage local government officials to develop construction erosion/sediment control ordinances in your community.
  • Have your septic system inspected and pumped, at a minimum, every 3-5 years so that it operates properly.
  • Purchase household detergents and cleaners that are low in phosphorous to reduce the amount of nutrients discharged into our lakes, streams and coastal waters.
This page updated: Monday, March 6, 2017 11:25

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